At Great Start Behaviour Services, we are passionate about professional development, and further education. Our staff are constantly learning, and challenging, what they know.

As part of our ongoing professional development, we regularly conduct research, on the work we are doing. Whether it is related to the individual clients we are working with, working with families as a whole, or even within our own team. This helps us to constantly monitor, and evaluate, our work.

We aim to share this research at workshops, and conferences, around the world. Participation is completely voluntary, and privacy, and confidentiality, are maintained, through the use of de-identifed data.

Our current areas of research include:

1. Parent/Carergiver training, education, and support.
2. Using Google products to create comprehensive programs and plans.


The Shared Struggles of Behavior Analysts Across the Globe: Practices of Dissemination in the Czech Republic and Australia

Sheri Kingsdorf

Lauren Cowled

Karel Pancocha

Alex Ahlgren Berg

Association for Behavior Analysis International's 10th International Conference, Stockholm, Sweden

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been spreading throughout the world over the last few decades. There has been a steady rise in access to ABA coursework, people pursuing certification in the field of ABA, and the availability of ABA services for those in need. However, these overall increases are not without challenges.

In regions of the world where ABA is still relatively young, the establishment of behavioral services has often meant unsupported growth. Pioneering practitioners have been met with struggles in promoting the value of ABA, developing a local peer-group in the science, finding professionals for collaboration, and addressing the overwhelming demand of families in need.

The Czech Republic and Australia, although on different sides of the globe, have both met with such growing pains. Despite drastically different locations, histories, and cultures, practitioners in both regions have shared experiences with the hardships of ABA practice and dissemination.

In this panel we will discuss the barriers that have been faced when working to expand ABA, the measures that have been taken to overcome them, and how the culture of behavior analysis can sometimes bridge worldwide gaps.

Essential for Living: Functional Life Skills for Adolescents and Adults with Disabilities

Lauren Cowled

Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia's  


Conference, Melbourne, Australia

Working with adolescents and adults with disabilities, the focus is on improving quality of life, increasing independence, and providing access to social opportunities through living arrangements, employment, and friends.

The Essential for Living Assessment and Curriculum provides a comprehensive overview of skill deficits, and highlights the best skills to focus on first, working with clients, through their ‘must have’, ‘should have’, ‘good to have’ and ‘nice to have’ designation of skills. Many of our clients have spent years using challenging behaviour to get their needs met, so working as a team with their families, support workers, and professionals involved in their care, is essential. 

Our clients are aged between 11 and 25, both male and female, living in Sydney, Australia. All have a diagnosed intellectual disability, and live at home with their families. Some are accessing school, others are accessing day programs. 

We implemented and monitored interventions to test the effectiveness of our interventions. Initial data have shown an increase in functional skills, and a decrease in challenging behaviour. We will be providing an overview of how we utilise Essential for Living with our clients, and then provide examples through case studies.

Using Activity Schedules to Increase Independent Leisure Time Skills in a Child With Autism

Meredith Vale

Lauren Cowled

Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia's 4th Conference, Melbourne, Australia

The selected individual is an eleven-year-old boy diagnosed with Autism. Our aim is to teach the child how to follow a visual activity schedule to independently complete three preferred tasks. The intervention is considered socially valid to whole family unit, as the family wish to decrease the child’s reliance upon others to initiate and engage in independent functional activities (Machaliek & Milley, 2012). 

The child is participating in a home and school - based Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) program in Sydney, Australia. Using a multiple baseline design across behaviours, three activities were chosen that were age appropriate, and were motivating and interesting to the client: 

(1) completing puzzles, 
(2) craft, and
(3) completing workbooks and favourite picture books. 

A task analysis was completed of the steps involved with each of the three activities. Visual activity sequences were then made using pictorial representations required to complete each part of the task steps. 

The activities were individually probed to gather stable baseline data, before beginning the intervention. ‘Play’ was taught first, while probing on the other tasks was continued. At the time of this writing, ‘Play’ is being taught using backwards chaining with leaps ahead, whilst probes continue on the other activities until 100% mastery of the first is achieved, to promote maintenance of independent activity completion (Krantz, MacDuff, & McClannahan, 1993).

Effects of Short-term Behaviour Consults for Adolescents and Adults with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities.

Lauren Cowled

Association for Behavior Analysis International's  


Conference, Chicago, IL, USA

Due to the way funding for disability is distributed in Australia, many of the clients we provide services to have a limited pool of funding for the year, so optimising service delivery, has been crucial. 

Our service provides home-based behaviour support consultation, to help carers learn how to identify the function of a behaviour, decide what to teach the individual, and then how to teach. 

We work with the client, and their carers, to assess and observe the behaviour, gather baseline data, develop a comprehensive Positive Behaviour Support Plan, and provide ongoing consulting services using Behaviour Skills Training to coach carers to implement strategies. 

Sessions are supplemented with information sheets on various topics including reinforcement, task analyses, and data collection. 

We provided this service for seven clients, aged 9 - 23, diagnosed with Autism, Intellectual Disability, or other Syndromes, in their homes, schools, and workplaces, in Sydney, Australia. Data indicate that over the course of 6 months, challenging behaviour decreased, while skills taught to replace the behaviour increased. Limitations with this study include lack of social validity data, and lack of observation of generalisation in multiple environments. 

Future directions include working with carers to enhance maintenance and generalisation.

Short-term, home-based, Applied Behaviour Analysis Training for Parents of Children with Autism: A pilot study

Lauren Cowled

Sheri Kingsdorf

Association for Behavior Analysis International's 44th Conference, San Diego, CA, USA

Great Start Behaviour Services provides a range of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Programs for people diagnosed with autism, and/or intellectual disability, from two years of age, to over sixty years of age, in Sydney, Australia. 

This service we developed was based on previous work completed with a less structured, six month parent and caregiver education and support program. The current service was developed after receiving multiple referrals for clients who had never heard of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) before, were over the age of six, had limited funding, and were currently using challenging behaviour, to get their needs met.

Due to the way disability services are funded in Australia, we were looking to create a new service delivery model of parent and caregiver training that used a short time frame (up to 3 months). Our clients were two school-aged children with autism, and their families - mothers, fathers, and siblings. Both clients live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.

Parent Training: A Pilot Study to Effectively Implement ABA Strategies in the Home

Lauren Cowled

Sheri Kingsdorf

Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia's Inaugural 

Conference, Melbourne, Australia

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an empirically-validated, scientific teaching method. It's efficacy with skills teaching for young children with autism and home-based programs, is well established. It is important to ensure parents are included in the planning and programming process, and that they understand the strategies and techniques used to teach their child new skills, to ensure generalisation and maintenance, are happening.

An observational training checklist was developed to guide the direct fortnightly training by a Clinician. The training was provided to three families in Sydney, with young children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Teaching strategies used during the training included: behavioural skills training, parent coaching, role play, modelling, and online data collection through Google websites. The ABA strategies covered included: reinforcement, functional behaviour assessment (FBA), data collection, skills teaching, task analysis, shaping, prompting, generalisation, and maintenance.

Intervention efficacy data were collected using the training checklist, and a parent self-efficacy scale was conducted on challenging behaviours, pre and post program. Frequency data were collected on challenging behaviour presented by the child, pre and post program.

While direct intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorders are extremely valuable, our overall goal should be providing children with opportunities to come into contact with reinforcement in their natural environment. Providing parent training on ABA strategies, ensures that parents are learning ways to maximise opportunities for their child to continue to develop, grow, and be reinforced.

Assessing the Effects of Using Activity Schedules With Backwards Chaining to Teach a Child With Autism

Lauren Cowled

Sheri Kingsdorf

Association for Behavior Analysis International's 42nd Conference, Chicago, IL, USA

Independence is such an important skill to teach. Our aim was to teach a nine year old boy with Autism how to follow a visual activity schedule to complete a range of preferred tasks. The child was participating in an individualised home based Applied Behaviour Analysis program in Sydney, Australia.


Using a multiple baseline design across behaviours, we chose three activities that were age appropriate, and matched the clients interests:


(1) play with puzzles and blocks,

(2) making a snack, and

(3) creating a craft.


We then created a task analysis of the steps involved with accompanying visual activity sequences, using photographs of the items to be used in the activities. Each activity schedule was probed to gather a stable baseline, before teaching took place, using backwards chaining with leaps ahead.


We established stable baseline data across all three activities, and are now working to target the first activity schedule - independent play with puzzles and blocks. After mastering the three targets in this study, we plan to work on generalising these skills to completion of non-preferred tasks that can be transitioned into employment-based activities.